The poem consists of three stanzas and it is formed on quatrains. In the first stanza the black man talks about the fear that he would not have a good harvest because the wind or birds could take the seed away. Actually the action of “planting” is metaphorical and means that this black man has fears for the future, which seems disappointing to him. That is he “plants” his labor for a better future.
In the second stanza the man says that even though he had enough seeds planted in rows from Canada to Mexico his harvest was still poor. His labor is in vain again. Possibly here, the speaker refers to a period when black people who lived in America () had had hard times copying with their life. In the third stanza the man says that his children have to feed on very few products while the children of his brother have enough food ensured. “His brother’s sons” except for being his nephews could possibly represent the white people. Here the man expresses his bitterness because his “brother’s sons” had a good harvest, whereas his own “children”, which again could represent the black people had bad luck and their struggles did go straw.
The third stanza is also the crux of the poem because here we watch the conclusion of what the black man had to say. He planted, and now it is the time for reaping and facing the results. Also it is this stanza that the man expresses his racial feeling of injustice that black people have in front of white. Thus, “planting” symbolizes the black people’s fears and labor for a better future and “reaping” the result that is still the same, as they are destined to have always an ominous fate. Throughout the poem we have the imagery of nature, as the poem talks about something that takes place in the nature. Reading the poem we visualize the fields and the actions of reaping and planting even though these are used metaphorically.
In her poem “Remittance Man”, Judith Wright focuses on the theme of living up to society’s unwritten code of conduct within England’s 19th century culture. She suggests that within a society so socially divided, there remains the idle rich who are obligated to abide by the incessant need for social etiquette expected of their station. She compares this English lifestyle to ...
At the start we have the image of “planting” and “reaping”, just the natural and literal meaning. Then these are used as similes by the speaker in order he to introduce us to the metaphor of the poem and so we to interpret it. Then the two actions are personified in a way, when the speaker talks about fear and struggle. After these stages the have finally become symbols, symbols of the labor of black people to survive by their work and their fruitless “reaping”, that is fruitless future. As it concerns the form, the poem has rhyming. We have alliteration between day and away, fear and year in the first stanza, land and hand, Mexico and show in the second, yields and fields, root and fruit in the third stanza.
The tone of the poem can be characterized as pessimistic. The black man worries about his and the black people’s future and this can be seen in the tone of the poem. He seems very pessimistic about the future because he thinks that his life will never change towards better days. It creates a sad mood to the poem and to the reader, and I think that this is expressed very well in the whole third stanza. Not only these lines have a sad and pessimistic mood but also make the reader to feel sorry for the black man. The title is well placed for the content of the poem.
It shows from the start that it is a poem about a black man and this makes us think immediately that the poem may also talk about racism. It gives an idea of the content and a racial feeling. If it was about a white man possibly this would not be stated in the title. Also the title gives to the poem the feeling of discrimination and injustice that black people suffer from the white.
I recently read two poems, entitled “Island Man” and “The Fringe of the Sea”. These two poems are similar in many ways, but also have conflicting ideas. They both have connections to the sea, through the content of the poems, but also through the authors. Grace Nichols is the author of “Island Man”, and she was born in Ghana, and now living in Britain. A.L. ...